Monday, December 20, 2021

within our reach

Aurora over Holy Name of Mary Church, Tsiigehtchic 

Photo by Jon Hansen C.Ss.R., Yellowknife

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.  And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.

Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435–1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist, classical scholar, and Franciscan friar.  Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513.


  1. This helps during these difficult times. I find deeper meaning when I substitute "troubles" for "earth" in that last paragraph--knowing earth as a being can pull the cloak away.

  2. “Troubles” and “earth” seem the same in this context to me. I still have trouble pulling the cloak away. Seems it (what’s what) should be more obvious, more accessible to more people. I’m deluded and know I’m deluded. Should it be this dark? Or am I still facing the wrong direction, trying too hard?

    1. Difficult questions you raise. What do we do? All you say is what I do: find myself in the dark, face the wrong direction, harbor delusions. I read, this a.m., Rick Hanson's blog about stillness (also on another blog, Jan Richardson's poem Blessing for the Longest Night), both, I think, encouraging seeking and finding a still point. For me, especially recently, I've found some stillness returning to Robert Bly, his poem about listening to Bach; going into the woods, listening to a stream behind my home; doing my artwork; loving under difficult circumstances; giving. The worry and hurt continue but somewhat more bearable at times. Finding that still point out there, somewhere, helps me. I think there is belief doing this, finding and knowing the good.

    2. Thank you so much for your comments (and you ever so stunning Xmas card), James. I apologize for taking so long to respond. It seems I can't reply to comments on either iPad or phone. It's a matter of getting back on my laptop. I appreciate your referrals to both Rick Hanson and Jan Richardson (and Robert Bly). They were all helpful to me.

      I've been mulling over that still point a lot recently, seems it is there, just not accessible by the usual routes, always somewhat behind me, or around the corner. But there.

      Best wishes for a good New Year to you and yours. It's comforting to know that others sort of get where I'm coming from.

  3. 2cents ______________________

    But alas the human condition
    is a bummer - the fact you are
    going to get sick and die is not
    fun and games -i think all humans
    travel in the same direction
    in a circle facing all directions
    at its best its a rocky road some times
    smooth yes there is joy and friendship
    but not a lasting state in human affairs
    even Jesus had his problems i am not
    convinced that Christmas is such a happy
    time all those freezing and starving -
    but there is the blessing of kindness -
    Happy blessings _____________________________

    1. Always appreciate your 2 cents, bob. You're right, it all comes together in the same package, the rocky and the smooth. No picking it apart.

      Sending you many blessings of kindness for the New Year.


2nd Sunday of Advent 2023

Photo by John P. Walsh F rom Alfred Delp S.J.,   Prison Writings , Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2004: “So this Sunday we must again fol...